Water availability is set to become the single most serious constraint on plant growth, crop yield and, hence, food security within the next two decades. We have seen substantial progress in recent years towards understanding how water stress and salinity affect these and related processes of development, nutrition, photosynthesis and pathogen defence. These developments challenge thinking and the approaches to mitigating the effects of water and salt stress in plants through crop engineering. They highlight many unknowns, including major signalling and genetic elements that must contribute to response integration in the plant. The Gordon Research Conference on Salinity and Water Stress in Plants brings together world-leading scientists researchers from academia and industry to address the most important of these recent developments and to discuss the opportunities they present for basic and applied research. In addition to invited speakers, there are opportunities for presentations to be selected from submitted abstracts and applications, ensuring that late-breaking developments are fully represented. A significant emphasis is placed on the breadth of impacts water and salinity have on plants, their relevance to food security around the world, and how information gained from model systems can be translated to crops. Topics include new advances in understanding stress signalling and transduction, ion and water homeostasis, molecular breeding and quantitative genetics, metabolomics, systems level analysis, as well as plant development, photosynthesis and whole-plant physiology.